Carmen Wolf, Los Angeles, CA writes asking, "Are there ways to recycle old athletic shoes to get them out of our waste stream?"

With tight budgets affecting every agency's budget, finding ways to recycle specific items can be good for the environment and remove hard-to-decompose items from the landfills. One program to help with this issue was established by Nike and is titled the "Reuse-a-Shoe" program. Thinking of my son's size 15 well-worn and smelly athletic shoes makes me wonder just what value could be found for these items. I actually learned that Nike has recycled some 13 million pairs of athletic shoes into surfaces such as soccer, football and baseball fields, weight room flooring, synthetic basketball and tennis courts, playground tiles and floor padding since the program began in 1993. The program accepts all athletic shoes as long as they don't contain any metal. For a list of collection locations check out the Nike website at:

"NPDES II" applications were due March 10, 2003. What does this mean for snowfighting operations?"

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, Phase II (NPDES II) has been in the works for several years now. Training has been held on numerous occasions for APWA members and others. The program regulates rain, ice and snow runoff to surface waters and it doesn't matter if the runoff is caused by a stormwater groundwater draining system or as direct runoff. Public works agencies must realize that municipal garages, vehicle fueling areas, and sand and salt storage facilities must prevent exposure and contamination. If stormwater enters the grounds of a facility and flows through it, NPDES II applies. For more details on this issue, see the Salt Institute's online Salt Storage Handbook at Snowfighting operations are only a small part of the stormwater control requirements but should not be ignored.

"With increasing budget cuts to our programs, we are looking for ways to provide some form of street sweeping for our community. We just can't afford to pay the high cost of manpower and equipment when we need to repair potholes. Any ideas?"

In many locations, street sweeping, or severely limited sweeping, is becoming a victim of budget deficits. Some agencies address the problem by reducing the number of sweepings to once a month. Others sweep only main thoroughfares but provide no service to residential areas. Sometimes special sweeping may be arranged to follow a parade route after an event, but usually it's reserved for major highly visible streets. St. Louis, MO has developed "TeamSweep," a program which uses federal and local grants as well as private donations, to reward kids ages eight to 16 for reducing waste by sweeping, shoveling, and recycling trash. The kids are rewarded with fun recreational activities through monies donated by businesses and local supporters. In some other neighborhoods, neighborhood associates use a portion of their dues to hire kids to help with street cleanup. "Where there's a will, there's a way!"

"During the months since the terrorist attacks on the East Coast, I have seen many discussions about vulnerability assessments but they have mostly been for water and wastewater systems. Do we need to be conducting any kind of assessment for transportation infrastructure?"

Assessing vulnerability for our road and bridge infrastructure is not as easily defined as for water and wastewater facilities, but is, nevertheless, an essential need in preparing for potential threats for the highway system and even to local road systems. Mary Peters, Federal Highway Administrator, recently stated, "Addressing potential threats to the highway system is particularly challenging because of the openness. Several strategies can help us accomplish this." A very thorough report and guide for assessing security for our road and bridge infrastructure can be found on the website of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) at The guide includes multiple checklists to determine internal readiness, use of ITS devices already in place, and the importance of adequate independent communication capacity.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 472-0405